Tesla Model S hatchback - Range, charging & running costs
The Tesla Model S is very expensive to buy, but cheap to run day-to-day
Let's address the elephant in the room first: the Tesla Model S is an expensive car to buy whichever version you choose. It’s considerably more expensive than most of its established luxury rivals. This cost issue holds it back from getting a higher rating, although range-topping Model S trims used to cost over £120,000, so it has come down in price significantly.
Of course, the Model S’ electric luxury-car status makes it a virtually unique product for the time being, so wealthy eco-conscious owners may not be put off by the price. Although it's out of reach of many car buyers, the Model S’ rock-bottom running costs will help balance out the high price for those who can choose a Tesla.
Tesla Model S range & charging
In late 2020 the Tesla Model S received a range of updates to make it even more efficient. The changes made the car slightly lighter and also included a tweaked regenerative braking system, giving the most efficient model an official range of 405 miles from the same 100kWh battery pack as before. Choose the Performance or Plaid models and this drops very slightly to 396 miles.
Not only can they travel around 10% further than before, the latest Model S is also compatible with Tesla's newest Superchargers, capable of 200kW charging that can make an 80% top-up 50% faster. That means 133 miles of range can be added in around 15 minutes - the time it takes for an average break at motorway services. The Supercharger network is constantly expanding, too, so most drivers will find one relatively close to home. New buyers no longer get free access to the Supercharger network, as this offer was withdrawn a few years ago.
As you can imagine, the Model S is much cheaper to run on a pence-per-mile basis than any petrol or diesel-engined rival. It qualifies for free road tax as it doesn’t produce direct CO2 emissions (which also means attracts the lowest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) rate for company-car drivers), and is now exempt from the yearly additional road tax supplement applied to cars costing more than £40,000 as a zero emission vehicle, saving nearly £500. It's also exempt from the London Congestion Charge and other low or zero-emission zone fees likely to be introduced in the next few years.
All versions of the Tesla Model S are rated in the highest group 50 for insurance, which means they won’t be cheap to cover. However, given the car’s performance is comparable and sometimes better than models like the BMW M5, Audi RS6 and Mercedes E63, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.
Tesla offers a clever servicing package, so you know precisely what you’re in for when purchasing a Model S. The four-year scheme covers consumables such as wiper blades and brake pads, but not tyres. This makes the car's running costs very transparent and manageable – and they should be a lot lower than for an average family car.
Tesla provides an eight-year/unlimited-mileage warranty for the Model S battery and electric motors, which is fully transferable to a new owner. The rest of the car is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.